I’ve never been to Sicily or Italy, but I can tell you that I never would have guessed that cauliflower was a very popular vegetable there. It is featured prominently in many dishes including some with pasta — something you don’t often see in the US due to the fact that both are starches (or at least cauliflower is close to one). The NY Times featured several recipes from Sicily, each showcasing the white flower.
I’ve always been a fan of cauliflower and most recently have been roasting it whole until it is fork tender. It is a perfect side dish and really takes little to no preparation. While scanning through Pintrest, I found a recipe from Martha Stewart which was a Cauliflower and Endive Gratin. I’m not a huge endive fan, but have started to eat it more. The dish also includes Israeli/Pearl couscous, giving it a little more depth and making it a great side dish (or Vegetarian entree).
The dish gives you the roasted cauliflower, a rich bechamel sauce, creamy gruyere cheese and a nice braised endive on the bottom. I took the main recipe and halved it, primarily because I only had one head of cauliflower.
Serves 8 — Easily halved to serve 4 (pictures above depict the halved version)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
2 heads Belgian endive, cut lengthwise into sixths
1 cup fregola Sarda (semolina pasta) or Israeli (large pearl) couscous – simmered in water for about 5 minutes
2 large heads cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into florets
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups finely grated (about 10 ounces) Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup coarsely grated (about 2 ounces) Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in lower third. Butter a 1 1/2-quart, deep, wide ovenproof dish. Put endive in bottom of dish. Arrange pasta or couscous over endive. Top with cauliflower.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk; cook, whisking, until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Whisk in Gruyere until smooth. Pour over cauliflower. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Set dish on a baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake until cauliflower is tender, about 40 minutes. (If browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool 10 minutes before serving.